Maryland Jeet Kune Do Academy’s Kali mentor, Kuya Doug Marcaida, recently posted a video interview between him and Ryan Hoover of Fit to Fight Krav Maga regarding what they thought was one of the biggest problems in the martial arts and Combatives community today. The issue they identified is one that has been a touchstone for me throughout my development as a martial artist and as an instructor. Though neither Kuya Doug nor Mr. Hoover called it as such, they issue they identified is intellectual honesty, or rather the lack thereof, dishonesty. This intellectual dishonesty is the opposite of humility, a desire to appear as more than what we really are.
One of my students recently was criticized for training with me by a friend of his, questioning my ability to teach edged weapon defense because I never served in the military. This is absolutely true, and I will never claim to have. If it is military training you want, I will point you toward my colleague, Joe Lynch, of Annapolis Defense & Security, who unlike me has served in combat. He will be the first to tell you that the military primarily teaches you how to shoot, not comprehensive edged weapons defense. I could probably teach you which end of a gun the bullet comes out of, and Joe can teach you that the pointy end of the knife is dangerous, but neither of us would be intellectually dishonest and claim to know more than we actual do about the others skill set. (Seriously, check ADS out. It is an all-veteran outfit that offers the best force-on-force tactical firearms training in Maryland.)
When Fred Mastro was here three weeks ago, we had a great conversation which turned into a demonstration right in the middle of Honey Pig in Ellicott City. While discussing defense against takedowns on the street, he demonstrated several of the ways takedown defense is taught that won’t work against a trained grappler. I had seen several of these methods espoused by other instructors on YouTube or other venues. Fred pointed out very succinctly, that the people espousing these methods demonstrated them using their own students, not students from MMA schools of wrestling academies. It is intellectually dishonest of these instructors to be teaching this so-called “anti-grappling” when they themselves have not trained in grappling. Fred Mastro is not an MMA fighter or competitor; he is a self-defense instructor, a doorman, and a bodyguard. However, to learn how to deal with grapplers for self-defense situations, he knew he had to learn their methods. As a result, he earned a brown belt in Brazilian Jiujitsu. Thus, when Fred Mastro speaks of defending against take downs, there is intellectual honesty there. When others speak out of intellectual dishonesty, there is the very real possibility that someone’s life is on the line.
I look to my mentors for this intellectual honesty and in turn try to offer the same at the Maryland Jeet Kune Do Academy. My sifu, Harinder Singh, is an excellent example of this, continually seeking out teachers to learn from despite being the head of his own organization. For our school, I am not a warrior. I have never served in combat, but to learn to close quarters battle, I look to Joe Lynch. To enhance our grappling curriculum, I bring in BJJ coaches and work privately with them on my own skills as well. To advance my understanding of edged and impact weapons, I look to Kuya Doug Marcaida.